Sunday, 29 April 2012

What happens when it rains cats and dogs?


Holidays are being discussed.  We are fortunate enough to be able to scrape together the necessaries to go away this year and exchange a British summer for a couple of weeks under a foreign sun.  Forgetting everyday niggles, gripes, worries and stress is something I find myself really yearning for come this time of the year.  However, so far nothing is booked.  I can see a last minute dot com being the result. 

Mr V is clinging to the hope that we will still be having a family holiday.  With three children aged 19, 17 and almost 15, I knew the summer of 2011 would be the last time we’d all be together.  Indeed, my son has already booked a jaunt to Turkey without us.  My step-daughter doesn’t want to go away and my daughter doesn’t want to go on holiday without her step-sister or brother.  So at this rate it could just be me and Mr V – which quite frankly I’m more than happy to entertain (where’s that brochure gone for the Maldives?). 

Currently the British weather is dismal.  The Government is telling us all we are in drought, to shower instead of bath, that if we use our hosepipes we will be punished with a hefty fine and to SAVE SAVE SAVE our water!  This is bitter pill to swallow when your road is flooded, you need Wellingtons and a storm mac to walk the dog and can’t sleep at night for the drum of torrential rainfall upon the bedroom skylights.  But when all is said and done I don’t really care where we go on holiday just so long as the sun shines all day long for two straight weeks and there is a sun bed to crash out upon with my Kindle and a cool drink. 

Oh, and in answer to the title of today’s bit of blog, the answer is obvious.  If it’s raining cats and dogs, you have to be careful not to step in a poodle.  Yes, the joke is as dismal as the weather... 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A Bit of a Bummer...


I spent all my teenage life with a chest as flat as a pancake.  Which didn’t bother me too much until, like my peers, we developed an interest in boys.  My girlfriends would merely raid their dad’s sock drawer and swagger off to the local disco sporting a pair of Dolly Partons.  But I didn’t have the gung-ho to do that.  Which meant they quickly partnered up for a dance while I stood on the outskirts watching.  Alone. 

These days that is no longer the case.  By that I don’t mean I lurk on the edge of dance floors.  I mean that I no longer have a flat chest.  And very recently I have been reminded how bits of our body can either make us either see the funny side, or actually be very upset.  For example, the exterior of our house is currently being painted.  I am faintly amused by the decorator ringing the doorbell and addressing my chest.  I doubt he knows what my face looks like.  But if you ask him what sweater I’m wearing, he’ll give you an A1 witness description.  However, for others the attention is hard to cope with.  And they can perceive themselves as fat. 

The misconceptions people have about their bodies is quite staggering.  I don’t watch television and haven’t for years.  I’m not au fait with Boot Camps for Big Girls, or Britain’s Next Anorexic Model or I’m An Attention Seeker Do Not Evict Me, but these programmes are watched by millions.  And a high percentage of the viewing audience are very impressionable. 

Take my daughter.  When we recently attended The National TV Awards and I was oohing and aahing about various celebrities, who did my daughter rush off to talk to?  Some 30 year old woman with the body of a child, fake breasts, fake hair, fake nails, fake eyelashes, fake tan, a nose job and a cosmetically over-filled lip to the point where – in profile – there wasn’t so much a trout pout as a morphing into Donald Duck.  ‘Oh my God,’ breathed my daughter, ‘she’s so beautiful.’  Are you kidding?  Seriously? 

Tell today’s young adults that you think a young and voluptuous Sophia Loren is fab and they will squeal with horror and declare if their backside were that big they’d be auditioning for the next Lipo Or Live With It programme.  And THAT is what hacks me off.  That TV, films, magazines, you name it, are full of ideals and influences that are bang out of order. 

So, bottom line is: BRING BACK THE BOTTOM!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Say That Again?


I find accents extremely challenging.  Especially when on the telephone.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re from Ireland or India, Scotland or Singapore, if you talk to me expect to hear a lot of, ‘Sorry, could you repeat that please?’  So they do and I’m still none the wiser.  At times it’s quite embarrassing.  ‘Are you taking the Mickey?’ snarled one exasperated person at the other end of my telephone earlier this week. 

A Londoner pronounces J as jay.  A Scott will say ji.  Or, depending on the region, jee.  Earlier this week one Scotsman was telling me his email address.  I wrote beale@blahblah.co.uk and read it back for confirmation.  ‘Och no,’ said the disembodied voice, ‘it’s Beale.’  ‘Beale?’ I questioned.  ‘Beale!’ came the reply.  ‘Beale?’ (me again).  ‘Lassie ah seed BEALE...B...I...L...L.’  And then the dawn came up.

Mind you, spelling things doesn’t always help.  Another email address I happily sent off to air.haig@blahblah.  Seconds later it bounced back to me as a fail.  Upon checking with the person they expressed puzzlement.  ‘Och how strrrrange, it’s definitely air dot haig, air for Rrrrrobert.  Ah.  Or should I say arrr?

Having family in the North of England I’ve acquainted myself with catching the booss yister-day, although chatting with my Italian in-laws was initially very challenging.  When I first met my mother-in-law I assumed she was still talking Italian.  I smiled politely and did lots of miming with my hands while my husband snorted into his coffee cup.  Nowadays I have my mother-in-law sussed.  She simply leaves the last syllable off everything.  So if she starts telling you about somebody’s dort you know she’s telling you all about that person’s daughter.  Telling me how she made one pasta dish was a doddle to translate.  Macarone, tomart, oyn, ricot, parmes.  Yum!

I remember the first time my parents met my in-laws.  We went out for a meal where the mothers discreetly kicked off their shoes under the table and began talking animatedly for two hours completely at cross-purposes.  My in-laws were talking about beautiful Italy, my mother agreed that Israel was indeed very lovely and asked what they thought of the beaches, and my father (who’s quite deaf) told them all about his new car to which my father-in-law said he preferred to travel by plane.  ‘To the supermarket?’ asked my father.  ‘Oh yes, lots of supermercato,’ my father-in-law confirmed.  And when we left the restaurant, our mothers had odd shoes on.

So it’s not just me is it!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

All in a Twitter


This week I joined Twitter.  In the last few months various people have suggested that somebody who wishes to call herself an author should get herself ‘out there’.  Until a few days ago I ignored these suggestions.  After all, I’ve only just settled into Facebook.  And that’s taken three years – with Timeline still being ignored.  I thought I was being cutting edge starting a blog (it’s bad enough wandering about trying to find New Post).  Twitter too?  That sounded like an owl hooting.  Anyway, I digress. 

So I signed up.  And did my first tweet.  ‘You’ll have to be cleverer than that,’ a prompt appeared, ‘you only have 140 characters.’  140 characters?  Twitter is expecting a writer whose fingers spew thousands of words to sum up a statement in 140 characters?  Flash fiction isn’t my forte, so Twitter and I were definitely not off to a good start. 

As my genre is contemporary romance (oh all right, chick lit if you insist) I decided to kick off with those two words in the search box.  And up came Twitter’s suggestions on who I should follow – fellow lovers of the written word...romantics...writers...and naturally chick lit fans.  I began clicking the button to follow.  After a while, the eyes glazed.  But I let the mouse keep on clicking.  First lesson on Twitter: pay attention to who you are following.  I was astounded to receive messages from ‘chicks’ and lots of tips on spit and swallow.  Obviously nothing to do with cuckoos or feathered friends.  A bit of unfollowing hastily took place. 

Forty-eight hours later I was quietly congratulating myself.  I’d even discovered a link and managed to open it – how exciting!  But not quite the thrill I was looking for.  Second lesson on Twitter: don’t open a link unless you know who sent it.  Suddenly I was receiving hundreds of nasty messages and, even worse, so were my followers...all apparently from me!  By this point the urge to take Twitter and metaphorically flush it down the toilet was overwhelmingly strong. 

A spot of password changing then took place.  After that I wondered why I couldn’t sign back in.  Transpired I’d mis-typed Twitter for Titter.  In another three years or so I’m sure I’ll be tweeting like a pro.  Meanwhile, tweets are being typed with one finger.  But I’m too polite to say which one....

Sunday, 1 April 2012

How to be a bit of a scrubber...


Yesterday my son came home trailing a suitcase stuffed with laundry.  He doesn’t stay very long you understand – just long enough to have me wash, tumble dry, iron and repack the suitcase.  Robbie came through the door telling me all about his latest dissection with great gusto.  I always do my best to be enthusiastic back, but it’s hard.  I like human bodies to be alive, kicking and in one piece.  Not smelling of formaldehyde with bits missing from the previous lot of medical students who had to remove a brain or something.

I unzipped the suitcase and my son’s clinic tunic was perched on top.  ‘Give that a good wash Mum,’ said Rob, ‘it reeks of death.’ He gave me a mischievous wink.  I donned a pair of pink rubber gloves and gingerly set about dissecting the contents of my son’s suitcase, placing the tunic in the washing machine as if a stick of dynamite.

I’m thrilled my son wants to be a dentist and has embraced his studies with such passion.  My mother is too.  As a retired nurse, she was very sad that her own daughters didn’t follow her into the profession, especially in the days of us husband hunting and not bagging ourselves a doctor.  Being raised by a nurse rubbed off on my sister and self in other ways.  OCD about germs being key.  When we were kids, we imagined an army of virulent germs carting us off to hospital if we didn’t wash our hands for example.  Death hovered in every public toilet. 

In some respects my son has morphed into my mother.  Little did I know that as I stood at the kitchen sink washing my hands, my actions were being studied.  ‘You call that hand washing?’ Robbie spluttered.  ‘Let me show you how to clean your hands properly.’  And with that he set about going between the webby bits, circling motions over the palms, washing each individual finger and thumb in a clockwise and anti-clock direction, and then proceeded to work his way up to the elbow.  ‘I’m not scrubbing up for surgery,’ I gaped at him in disbelief, ‘I just want to peel the vegetables.’

Anyway, all this chat about corpses and food reminds me of a silly joke
What did the skeleton say before eating his dinner?  Bone app├ętit.

I know.  Dismal.  Happy Sunday everyone...